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1864 October 11: “I have given only a brief outline of the expedition but you can form some idea from it of what we are doing”

October 11, 2014

Jerry Flint, lieutenant of Company G of the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry, writes of a small cavalry raid he was involved in.  Of this raid, the official history of the 4th Cavalry says only, “Two other expeditions to Clinton were undertaken in the months of October and November, which were both highly successful”¹

The original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

Camp, 4th Wis Cavalry
Baton Rouge La.  Oct. 11th 1864

    .My Dear Mother,

                                      I have an evening to myself to night, and it is the first one for some time when I have not been so tired that writing seemed almost out of the question.  We have [been] “raiding” considerable of late, and during such times a person gets but little opportunity for sleep or rest.

Day before yesterday we came in from a four days ride and yesterday had to move camp so that last night is the first chance for sleep I have had for a week.  Two of the nights out I rode all night, and the other two had only a part of the time to rest.  It is a pleasure, however, to get out into the country, mounted on a good horse, and go dashing along at a glorious gallop.  I will give a brief outline of my part in the raid.

We left camp about sundown on the 6th.  The column consisted of four regiments of cavalry, and one battery of artillery, all under the command of Genl Lee.  [Albert L. Lee]

We went towards Clinton, only in a round about way, and arrived in the vicinity of that place at sunrise the next morning having made a march of forty miles.  Here a party sent ahead for the purpose discovered that the place was evacuated.  The column remained where it was, through the day.  About the middle of the afternoon a party of seventy men taken from three different regiments under Maj. Montgomery of the 6th Mo Cavalry were detailed for a scout.  I was in command of the men from this regiment.  We started out about 5 o[‘]clock and at midnight dashed into Greensburgh [sic] 25 miles from where the we left the main column.  Finding no considerable force of the enemy, we stopped an hour, fed our horses, searched the town breaking up all the arms we could find and started forward and a little after sunrise reached Ossyka [sic] a small town on the New Orleans & Jackson railroad.

We found a few rebs, but the most of them skedaddled.  As the citizens were just getting breakfast we very politily [sic] took off our hats and seated ourselves around the tables in the several houses, and thus secured a warm breakfast, which we could do very good justice to, after a night ride of 50 miles.  We were now 75 miles from Baton Rouge by the most direct route.  We destroyed quite a quantity of muskets, captured some valuable dispatches at the telegraph office, and destroyed everything that could be of service to the enemy.

After resting our horses sufficient we started out again towards home by another route having about 30 prisoners.  The Maj. gave me the advance.  We captured some rebs on the way but only staglers [sic].  At night found ourselves again at Greensburgh [sic], where the whole column had arrived.  Stayed at this place over night and in the morning started again for Baton Rouge.  Marched slowly all day and camped at night in the vicinity of Greenville Springs, and the next day went into camp.  We brought in about 200 prisoners in all, besides getting a large number of horses and mules.  It was rather a pleasant trip though pretty hard on both horses and men.

I have given only a brief outline of the expedition but you can form some idea from it of what we are doing.  The weather is getting to delicious — warm sunny days, and cool refreshing nights.  Charly² is quite unwell, and I have got him sleeping in my tent to night because I am fortunate enough to have a mattress to sleep on.  He is a splendid fellow, and one of the best of soldiers.  Whitefield is well and.  Was out on the raid with us and was happy when he could encounter some old rebels’ hive of honey.  He is great for plunder — beats me all to nothing.  Rossie [Roswell V. Pratt] was in here to night; and seems as good a boy as ever.  I suppose Lt. Knowles is up there before this.  I hope he will have a good time for he well deserves it.  [Warren P. Knowles]

I am quite encouraged at the prospects of the the war coming to an end.  If the people at home will do their duty as well at the coming election as the armies of Grant and Sherman have done, and will do in the field, the war need not last six months longer.  The fire in the rear is all that has kept the confederacy together until now.  All the rebels we capture, say that their only hope is in the election of McClellan.  But I suppose you do not care to hear politics discussed so I will cease.  [Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George B. McClellan]

My health is very good, and I am getting along first rate.  It is lonesome without Warren but if he is enjoying himself I certainly should not complain.  Give my love to Grandmother, Aunt Lydia, Uncle Joseph and all the good folks generally.  Tell Sarah to write.  I have forgotten whether I have answered her last letter or not, but tell her to write any way.  I don’t have so much time to write as I would if Warren was here.  I will enclose two or three photographs which I wish you to keep for me.  I shall spoil them if I carry them with me.  Well it is bedtime, and there is a general inspection at 8 o[‘]clock to morrow so I will bid you good night.  Make Phin [Phineas C. Flint] write for you.

Your boy,
. Jerry

1.  Military History of Wisconsin, by E. B. Quiner (Chicago, 1866), chapter 53, page 926.
2.  Could be either Charles G. Knowles or Charles P. Nichols.

Jerry Flint letter of October 11, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Jerry Flint letter of October 11, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

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